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‘The Internet has certainly changed the way in which you brand products, but not in the way most marketers think. The Internet is not a broadcast medium like television. It is much more of a service medium in which you allow people to interact and exchange information with you.’

Regis McKenna, chairman of The McKenna Group

The web has bowled brand managers a pitching, spinning ball. Even if you have gone through the brand dream process and feel confident that you have nailed all the key features of your brand, there is the question of how to represent these through the web. The way you might promote your brand through mainstream media does not translate smoothly to the Internet. The rules here are different. The way you reach people is not the same. The supplier–customer relationship is totally different. There are new and substantial threats, as well as significant opportunities, to brand development.

There has never been a time when it was more important for brands to be ‘firm, but flexible’, to adapt the words of former British Prime Minister Jim Callaghan. One thing is certain. Without a consistent and firm projection of what your brand is about, there is scope for confusion as detractors and critics steal the initiative. But there is a need for flexibility in demonstrating that the brand can absorb the feedback from the marketplace. Brand behaviour on the web can be shaped ...

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